On January 1st, Latvia becomes the 18th member of the Eurozone to introduce the European single currency. Most of the country’s politicians and entrepreneurs are convinced of the benefits. However, like the population, a minority fears the risks.
There are quite a few things that speak against the euro. The monetary union has just proven to be rather shaky and the people in Latvia don’t want it at all – at least that’s what a clear majority in opinion polls says. None of this confuses the country’s finance minister, Andris Vilks. And if you ask him about the reasons, the first thing that comes up is a more political argument: "We are completing our dream of being part of all three crucial pillars of the western world: the EU, NATO and the euro zone," replies Vilks.
This enthusiasm for integration with the West has, of course, a lot to do with the fear of the overpowering eastern neighbor and former occupier Russia. But economically, too, the finance minister sees the euro primarily as a safe haven: Then there would be no more speculation with the currency, no constant rumors of devaluation, said Vilks. "Fending that off has always cost us so much strength. The euro is a powerful anchor of stability for us."